Make your own biltong

Ok, so not exactly a soap post, but it’s this time of the year again, when I’m busy preserving and making food. Last year during lockdown, I perfected my sourdough skills (me and every one else). This time during lockdown, it’s biltong. For those of you who don’t know what biltong is, it’s a South African dried meat, a bit like jerky, but tastes totally different better!

For those of you who know me, know that I like to do things the easy way, and I’ll always try and improve stuff to make it quicker and easier without losing on quality. Biltong is one of those things. You can’t rush it, but you also don’t need to go all technical with the preparation. So here’s my way of making biltong the easy way.

Biltong recipe

Before you start, make sure you have clean hands and work with clean equipment. You’re working with raw meat here.

You will need a dehydrator. From what I have found out is that it needs two things: low heat and air flow. Ovens usually don’t have the low heat required, and also the oven fan is not as effective as the dehydrator.


  • steak (rump or sirloin, if you’re in NZ, not sure what you call it overseas)
  • salt (you can use sea salt, Himalayan salt or your plain table salt, I haven’t noticed a difference)
  • malt vinegar (I prefer this over the other kinds, but other vinegars all work too)
  • Worcestershire sauce (this is my little secret ingredient, but if you don’t have it, you can leave it out)
  • coriander seeds
  • black pepper corns
  • optional: other spices such as chilli flakes, paprika, fennel seeds, etc.


Step 1

Generously rub salt into your steaks and leave them covered on your kitchen bench for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

The salt removes moisture from the meat and preserves the meat.

Step 2

While you’re waiting, grind your spices. Coriander seeds and black pepper are the typical biltong spices, but you can also add other spices.

Step 3

After 1 to 1 1/2 hours, scrape as much of the salt as you can.

Next, wipe (don’t soak) the steaks with malt vinegar, and then drizzle Worcestershire sauce over the steaks and massage it into the meat (clean hands!).

Step 4

Pat dry the steaks and then press the ground spices into both sides of the steaks.

Step 5

Place the steaks on a tray and dehydrate at 35 C for 2-3 days, depending on the size and thickness of the steak.

This is the part that cannot be rushed and there are no shortcuts to the drying time.

I tried using higher heat, which a few recipes said would shorten the drying time to about 6-7 hours. Here’s the result:

Not only does it look unappetising, it also tastes like cooked meat and not at all like biltong. So nope, there are no shortcuts to the drying time.

Here’s the biltong I made earlier this week:

This is what it’s supposed to look like! And it tasted delicious!

Here’s another biltong I made:

This one was nearly perfect! (even if I say so myself)

FYI biltong tastes great with a glass of Sauvignon blanc! 🥂

A note to shelf life

To be honest, I don’t know how long biltong will keep. We don’t keep it in the fridge, but saying that, our biltong doesn’t last long. We usually eat it within a week, and it just sits on our kitchen bench, wrapped in a paper towel to keep the flies off. I’m sure it’ll keep longer, but you’ll need to google that yourself. Also, if you want to be on safe side, keep it in the fridge.

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